Liverpool's Loris Karius arrived from Jurgen Klopp's former club Mainz 05 last summer for a relatively small fee of just £4.7 million.
Despite the modest price-tag, the German came with a big reputation, having been voted the second-best goalkeeper in the Bundesliga for the previous season, beaten only by Manuel Neuer. His confidence with the ball at his feet and a high starting position when his team are in possession were seen as being perfect for Jurgen Klopp’s system.
What went wrong last season?
But after injuring his hand in pre-season, his debut campaign in England got off to a bad start. Simon Mignolet, who had been relegated to being Liverpool's number two when Karius arrived, began the season, but as soon as the German returned from injury, he was brought back in, despite his deputy having done nothing wrong.
The pressure was on Karius to perform; to justify Klopp's choice to put him back between the sticks straight away.
It proved to be a little too much too soon. Although Liverpool were flying with Sadio Mane, Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho in top form, Liverpool kept conceding poor goals like in the 5-1 demolition of Hull City. It might not matter when you score five goals, but you cannot score five goals every week.
A trip to Middlesbrough on 14 December saw Karius dropped after playing eleven successive games, with Mignolet coming back in. The Belgian retained his status as number one for the remainder of the season, with Karius playing in the cup competitions, of which there were only five.
With Danny Ward now back at Liverpool, fresh from having an excellent season in Huddersfield Town’s run to promotion to the Premier League, as well as Mignolet, Karius has a tough task ahead of him.
After a stellar second half of the season, Mignolet surely will begin the season in goal, and then it will up to Ward and Karius to challenge him. The German, though, is relishing the test.
What did Karius say?
Speaking to Liverpool’s official website, Karius said, “I didn’t have an easy first season with a bit of a struggle and injuries. Now I want to prove myself, do better than last season and win the shirt back.
“It was a new experience for me, with a lot to learn." The goalkeeper was quoted. "Even in the negative spell, I took positives out of it and learned a lot that was new to me. I feel strong mentally and also on the pitch. I want to prove myself.”
Klopp has made it clear that decisions on the first eleven will be made throughout pre-season, and everyone in every position will have an equal chance to impress.
Karius added, “It’s good to have competition and good for the club to have three strong goalkeepers. I’m sure we’ll try to push each other in training. Everyone will try to be at their best”.
Having had a year to acclimatise to English football and life on Merseyside, Karius will be better placed this time around to show why Jurgen Klopp wanted to bring him in. The goalkeeper is certainly ready to push himself into contention, and the competition for places will drive every member of the squad to get even better.
Liverpool's first match of pre-season is on Wednesday evening against Tranmere Rovers, with Karius likely to be lining up in goal having been back in training for the longest out of all his goalkeeping rivals.